United Kingdom airlines are scrambling to lay on extra flights to Portugal so that Brits can make it back home before the country is placed on the UK’s Amber list. The Iberian nation was removed from the UK’s Green list of safe countries to visit on Thursday after transport secretary Grant Shapps said the presence of the Delta variant (Indian) and an increasing positivity rate was behind the move.
The changes to the UK’s traffic light-like system of rating countries based on their infection rates will come into effect at 04:00 on June 8th. Any person arriving in the UK from Portugal after then must self-isolate at home for ten days and is required to take two expensive post-arrival COVID-19 PCR tests. The travel industry has called the sudden move by the UK government as being incredibly disappointing and confusing. In contrast, government ministers in Portugal have called it “not logical” because the number of COVIOD-19 cases in the country remains relatively stable.
easyJet is adding 1,000 seats on Faro flights
To meet the surge in UK vacationers rushing to get back home before Tuesday’s deadline Luton Airport (LTN)-based easyJet has said it would operate additional flights to bring UK holidaymakers home. To meet demand, easyJet has added 1,000 seats on flights from Faro Airport (FAO) to London Gatwick (LGW), London Luton Airport (LTN), Bristol Airport (BRS), and Manchester Airport (MAN).
In a statement released by easyJet yesterday, the low-cost carrier says that customers will be able to change their flights without having to pay any fees up to two hours before departure. easyJet says that, unlike other airlines, easyJet customers can change bookings for any flight or destination on the airline’s network.
This means that people who had booked a Portugal holiday thinking that it would be on the UK’s safe list of countries can easily change their trip to another date or destination on easyJet’s network of 35 countries across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
easyJet customers can easily change flights
“We know first-hand from our customers what a blow this sudden decision to put Portugal on the Amber list is. With many British tourists currently in Portugal, our priority is to help the customers who need to return ahead of the Tuesday deadline. We are providing over a thousand additional seats from Portugal to the UK by flying larger aircraft on flights and adding some additional flights where there is demand.
“And, for customers who need support with testing requirements, we’re working with approved testing partner Collinson to provide support to customers in Portugal who need to arrange new tests.
“We already offer some of the most flexible policies for customers through our Protection Promise, which means that any customers booked to travel to Portugal this summer who want to change their plans can transfer to another date or destination, fee-free.”
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TUI will deploy Dreamliners
United Kingdom national flag carrier British Airways says that it is laying on three additional flights to Faro to bring UK vacationers home on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. British Airways contacted Simple Flying to say that their additional flights would include operating a Boeing 777 aircraft on Monday.
Customers in Portugal can change their flights for free through ‘Manage my Booking’ on ba.com. British holiday charter airline TUI has also responded to the news saying it will deploy larger Boeing 787 Dreamliners rather than single-aisle Boeing 737s to bring people home.
Europe’s biggest airline, Ryanair, has not announced any additional flights from Portugal but has been quite vocal when talking about the UK government’s approach calling it “stop-go-stop.” Ryanair says that given that so many people in the UK have now been vaccinated, why would they need to self-isolate on their return home? The Dublin headquartered airline also said that Portugal should be returned to the Green list and that Malta, the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands should be added as their infection rates are 30 per 100,000, which is less than the UK Covid case rates.
Are you in Portugal and looking to get home before Tuesday’s deadline? Please tell us in the comments if you managed to get a seat on the extra flights and what it was like dealing with the airline.